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If ever there was a sport that perfectly suits Canberra, it would be triathlon.
Our love of cycling is well documented, and if you’ve ever been at Lake Burley Griffin before 7am, you’ll know all too well just how many Canberrans love to pound the pavement of a morning. If a swim in the lake doesn’t tickle your fancy, we’re well equipped with a selection of Olympic pools (including the one at the Australian Institute of Sport, no less) which are perfect for a lap or two.
Beyond the infrastructure, Triathlon is an excellent sport that’s social yet competitive and of course, intensely challenging – particularly at the elite level.
Even our politicians are well versed in the art of the triathlon: Minister Shane Rattenbury has an impressive track record representing Australia on the world Triathlon stage.
If the last three years are anything to go by, Triathlon shows no sign of slowing in its popularity.
From 2015-17, Triathlon ACT membership increased by 65%, reaching a whopping 1052 members. Importantly, it’s a sport that women are taking up in spades – 61% of Triathlon ACT members are female, and the fastest growing group is women aged 25-29. There’s also women involved in the organisation, with 43% Female Board representation, and 50% representation in staff and event volunteers.
Board members Polly Templeton and Amanda Power are quick to share that while they love the physical benefits of triathlon, it’s the culture that has them hooked.
“I’m not competitive,” says Amanda, “I’m more of a social athlete, so I love having people around. I’ve made great friendships.”
Having recently suffered a bad crash and being subsequently unable to compete, Polly says the Triathlon community, especially FIT (Females in Training) rallied to provide emotional and practical support.
“It really gets you through,” she says, “even if you can’t compete, just being part of the group is what does it for me, it’s fabulous.”
Triathlon is also a sport that strives to be accessible to everyone. Several Canberra clubs including Bilby’s, FIT and Vikings run novice programs that teach newcomers the basics – from swimming, running and biking techniques, to transitions, to bike maintenance – in the past, FIT have even run a seminar on finding the right bra for Triathlon.
“Training sessions are separately held for the novice group, with volunteer coaches supporting them” explains Polly. “It’s a period of six or eight weeks, leading up to practising a triathlon, and it includes one-off seminars or hands-on workshops on different things. It’s quite an achievement at the end, there are two distances they can choose from, so if they don’t feel like they’re up to the longer one, they can do a shorter one. Everyone cheers them on.”
“We get all different ages, abilities and body types – it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re giving it a go.”
Triathlon is a summer sport, which means that unfortunately, the season is coming to an end. One of the final local events is the Proximity Corporate & Community Triathlon on March 3. There is a range of distances on offer, meaning that it’s ideal for people who’ve never attempted a triathlon before or looking to participate in a fun, social way. They’re also offering a 30% discount for HerCanberra readers (use the promo code HERCANBERRA30 when entering).
Beyond the Proximity Corporate & Community Triathlon, there are a number of NSW events that you can participate in, including Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Wollongong.
There are also Canberra running and cycling events throughout the year, so you can train and get a taste for the sport before immersing yourself in the next Triathlon season.
“A lot of people do marathons or half marathons, or running programs [during the off-season]” says Polly. “You don’t do triathlons as such, but you keep training and doing other things – there’s always cycling races every weekend with different clubs.”
To find more information about Triathlon and clubs in Canberra, visit Triathlon ACT.